Iquitos (Spanish pronunciation: [iˈkitos]) is the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest and the capital of the Loreto Region and Maynas Province. The city is considered the sixth largest city of Peru, with 457,865 inhabitants. Furthermore, it is the heart of what has been officially designated as the Iquitos Metropolitan Area. A honeypot, Iquitos is the hub where the food, culture, customs, worldview and historical landmarks of Loreto meet. Its nickname as the Capital of the Peruvian Amazon acquired international status by hosting the commemorative plaque of the Amazon River as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Iquitos is located on the left bank of the Amazon river, in northeastern Peru. The city consists of four districts ——Iquitos, Belen, Punchana y San Juan Bautista— that were created gradually as Iquitos grew and finally consolidated in 1999. Its founding date is uncertain, but historical documents state that Iquitos started as a Spanish reduction established by Jesuits along the Nanay River c. 1757 with the name "San Pablo de Napeanos," inhabited by indigenous Napeano (Yameo) and Iquito people. In the course of its history, the city had a strong showing in the rubber boom (1880-1914), a period of large economic and social development that gave this city its unique urban and cultural identity. Because of this, it has the largest gringo enclave in Peru.
Iquitos has a strong tourism-based economy as the main center of "Charapa culture." It is a cosmopolitan city with strong Amazon roots and cultural diversity that encourages creativity in its artistic community. The architectural legacy of the rubber boom has given the city another characteristic identity. Iquitos is considered a party town because of its entertainment that encompasses both its nightlife and cultural movement. Its demography is the most multi-ethnic in the Peruvian Amazon and maintains a melting pot status that resulted from the large immigration of foreigners and mixing during the rubber boom.
Several neighborhoods and landmarks of Iquitos are prized for their Amazonian, European and bohemian atmosphere, and the city attracts 46-150,000 tourists a year, a number that is expected to rise after the award of the Amazon. Recent international flights to the major hub of Panama lead on to Miami and Cancun via PTY. The city was included, as number 6, on the list of "top 10 cities for 2011" by Lonely Planet. Downtown Iquitos is considered the starting point for the city tour, and the Belén Market is described as the largest traditional market in the Peruvian Amazon.
The city can be reached only by airplane or boat, with the exception of a road to Nauta, a small town roughly 100 km (62 mi) south. It is the largest city in the world which cannot be reached by road. Ocean vessels of 3,000 tons or 9,000 tons and 5.5 metres (18 ft) draft can reach Iquitos from the Atlantic Ocean, 3600 km away. Most travel within the city via bus, motorcycle, or the ubiquitous auto rickshaw (mototaxi, motocarro or motokar), which is essentially a modified motorcycle with a cabin behind supported by two wheels, seating three. Transportation to nearby towns often requires a river trip via peque-peque, a small public motorized boat.
The climate is hot and humid, with an average relative humidity of 85%. The wet season lasts from around November to May, with the river reaching its highest point in May. The river is at its lowest in October.